Sunday, 19 July 2009

mmmmm caramel shortbread *drool*

title says it all really, I tried out Lucy's recipe for millionaire's shortbread yesterday (with some help from Lyra!) & so we have a plate of yummy sticky sweet shortbready, caramel-fudgey, chocolatey goodness in the fridge (temporarily I feel!)
very good, though shortbread a wee bit too crumbly so think I will need to knead it a bit more next time so it isn't so short (i.e. crumbly). sure I'll try it again though!!!!

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

moisturising milk bath bags...

My own recipe for lovely oaty bundles of goodness to pop in your bath, they make the water feel lovely and soft without containing any nasty petrochemicals....

a couple of large handfuls of porridge oats
2 generous tablespoons of dried skimmed milk
a dessert spoon of bicarbonate of soda
1 tablespoon coconut oil/ sweet almond oil
1 tablespoon cocoa butter grated or chopped into tiny bits
several drops (I'd even say a teaspoon worth) of essential oils of your choice for fragrance - I chose lavender and bergamot for a relaxing bath for the children but you use whatever you fancy, I don't mind at all :o)

to make the bags -

6-8 inch squares of muslin
a pretty ribbon (optional!)

Put all of the ingredients into a bowl and use your fingers to rub them all together until they are well combined and it looks like you just have a bowl of oats.

Place a large spoonful into the middle of your muslin (I put the muslin in a little glass first to keep it as tidy as possible), pick the muslin up by the corners and tie the opening securely with the string/yarn - knot in a double knot.

finish with a pretty ribbon.

Put into a nice warm bath.

That's it, nothing else to it - wasn't that simple!

I made these with the help of my 2-year-old daughter and she loved getting her hands in & mixing it up - it id get a little messy though and we made a few too many because she kept on adding more of everything! I think they are rather pretty and a lovely little idea for a gift if you're making a hamper or goodie bag for somebody... It's all good stuff, really good for your skin too. Enjoy!

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

getting hooked...

My current obsession is crochet and its versatility to make all sorts of things... I've spent the past week or so lusting after everything here - Lucy's use of bright colours that always seem to work and look beautiful is truly inspirational. I need to make a bag, ablanket and lots of little flowers, really I do. While lusting I have been making a number of little flowers myself based on this pattern as they are puffy, making a nice padded texture perfect for a camera bag, which is what I want tomake. I'm using orange, chocolate brown and cream for now but I'm doubtless that Lucy's gorgeous creations have inspired me enough to use more...
Incidentally the zombie I am making freestyle is almost complete & ready to share.. I'm rather proud of him....
Making things does fill me with a feeling of achievment and the prettiness of things I make makes me feel all lovely too. There really aren't enough hours in the day!

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Easy strawberry jam

This is such an easy recipe and I personally think the jam is about the best I've tasted if I do say so myself! It's dead simple and it doesn't use ridiculous amounts of sugar because it really doesn't need to last for *years* does it - it's so yummy that months would be pushing it but I expect it would last a year or so in sealed sterile jars. The boiling of the jam and sterilisation of the jars negates the need for masses of sugar and you really don't need pectin as strawberries contain enough themselves for it to set. OK there are plenty of recipes for strawberry jam online but this is my version - I don't usually do following recipes.

Ingredients -
1kilo strawberries (washed and hulled)
50ml lemon juice
300g granulated sugar

Make sure the jars and lids you will be using are very clean and fully sterilised, I use my baby bottle electric stream steriliser but you can wash the jars and lids thoroughly in very hot water then pop them on a baking tray and into an oven that has been heated to at least 100 degrees centigrade. Turn the oven off & leave them for at least 10 minutes. Once you remove them don't touch the inside of the jars or lids as that will undo your sterilisation. simple!

put all the ingredients together in a large saucepan and get your (clean!) hands in there and squish it all together until the strawberries are mostly mashed up with some medium sized lumps still remaining and it's all mixed together & a gorgeously glistening red..
Put the pan on the hob and bring to the boil.
Turn the heat down and simmer the jam, stirring and removing the foam that develops on top every 5 minutes or so.
After about 25 minutes do the cold plate test to see if the jam sets (put a blob of jam on a cold plate and allow it to cool. run a finger through it to check its consistency) - if the jam is too runny simmer for another 5-10 minutes and test again.
Once the jam is setting when tested pour the hot jam into the pre-sterilised jars leaving about 2cm at the top. put the lids on being careful not to touch the inside of jar or lid.
Allow to cool and eat :o)
On the jars have been opened do store in the fridge, otherwise it will last until you make the next batch!!!

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Rainbow dress

What do you think of the lovely rainbow dress I made for Lyra? I cast on the first stitches for this when I was (unknowingly!) in early labour with Logan... 7 weeks later it was complete & ready to wear. Not exactly a dress to hide away in is it!!! I made up the pattern as I went along but this is basically what I did...
It wass knitted on circular needles & worked from the bottom up in stocking stitch... Each coloured stripe is 7 rows & think I cast on 174 stitches to start with on the circular needles... started knitting together part way throught he 2nd rainbow to add some shape to the skirt then when I got to the end of 2 full sets of the colours I started knitting on normal needles, separating the front & back & after 2 bands of colour started reducing the number of stitces by knitting 2 stitches together on each end of rows I was reducing, think it was aleternate rows to start with & then the middle row of each colour band to shape it into a pinafore....
I used 3.5mm circular needles & 3mm straight needles for the top because I thought the top could do with being a bit smaller knit & would be more likely to become stretched with wear. I used DK wool though so it would have been fine with 4mm needles for both & fewer stitches, I just wanted tight stitching to be 100% certain I didn't need to line it!! I bought verything I used on ebay lots cheaper than it would be in the shops... By the way to get stocking stith on circular needles you just knit all the way with no purl rows (just in case you didn't know)